Hello and Happy Pancake Day!!
Justin & I are back home after our whirlwind of adventures this past week, and now we are gearing up for our next wedding which will be this weekend. Since our first wedding of the year was all the way back at the beginning of February, it kind of feels like that all over again with this one too. Like it’s our first wedding of the season, Part II. Apparently, I create anthologies with our weddings. What can I say, I’m a big fan of sequels.
Before any wedding, and especially before one when we haven’t shot other weddings in a while, I definitely get a case of the….well, I was going to say butterflies. But I dunno, “butterflies” sounds too soft and dreamy. Like I’m floating around the house in a ballerina outfit, turning pirouettes with my camera straps as we pack our lenses away in glitter covered gear bags. Nope. That’s not it. I’d say it’s more like I get a case of the Tracker Jackers. An angry swarm of genetically modified bees chasing me from room to room just daring me to forget. one. thing. as I race out the door. Yea, that’s more like it.
(And speaking of sequels, who’s already started a countdown in their heads until Catching Fire comes out?? Yea, *this girl*)
Anyway, since we know this about ourselves, that the nerves can run a little high the morning of a wedding, Justin & I have come up with a little pre-game routine we always run through the night before to help keep all that in check. We’re kind of like those superstitious baseball players who have to get ready the exact. same. way. before every game before they can take the field. I mean seriously, we’re about one step away from buying matching sweat socks that we refuse to wash all season. Yea, that wouldn’t be pretty.
Since we know that the nerves can get the best of all of us from time to time, we thought we’d share our routine here in case it might help a few of you out there. I mean, if I can save just one person from buying superstitious sweat socks, let’s face it… I know I’ll have done my job.
1. Division of Labor
The first thing I would say is that just like when we talked about “compartmentalizing our workflow” HERE, we are also dividing up the responsibilities in who takes care of what in getting us ready. This allows us to do the work in half the time, and we also know where the buck stops if something doesn’t get done. In short simple terms, Justin is the gear head and I am the coordinator. So he is taking care of everything that has to do with packing & prepping our gear, and I’m taking care of all things logistics like finalizing anything with the planner, printing off our info sheets, and setting the departure time.
2. Prepping the Gear
Justin’s routine goes basically like this: he’ll pop the camera batteries and rechargeable flash batteries on to the chargers (if they aren’t already fully charged) first so that they can be charging while he’s doing everything else. He will then clean our lenses and pack everything camera body related (lenses, flash & gels, pocket wizards ) into our two Think Tank Airport International bags (as you’ll see, we LOVE us some Think Tank!). Because we have configured them so that everything has a spot, he can quickly look at them and tell if anything is missing. He will then move on to packing the lighting & any supporting grip equipment into their own cases. Some things that he’s always certain to bring are extension cords, power adapters (for when we’re shooting in old estates that only have two prong outlets), surge protectors (for when we have to tap into the tent or band’s power source), and super clamps and sand bags to help hold everything down. So that’s gear, lighting and then he’ll move on to computers. He’ll make sure our laptop has a full charge and is packed away with the power cord in the Think Tank laptop case we have. He’ll also make sure that I have an external Lacie Rugged hard drive and my daisy-chain stackable Lexar card readers that can download up to three cards at once, so that I’m ready to go later when it’s time to download, backup and create a quick slideshow for the reception. The final step for him, is to make sure that all of our cards are cleared off and that our Think Tank Card Wallet is filled with 10 8-gig Lexar cards. We rarely ever need that much space, but starting with every spot in the case filled up also helps us track and make sure we’re leaving with every card at the end of the night. From there, the cards and the batteries (also stored in their own Think Tank Rechargable AA Battery Holder) get put into our gear bags and we’re ready to go for in the morning.
3. Coordinating the Logistics
Everything that falls on my side of things is about getting us to where we need to be, with everything we need in addition to the gear, and knowing everything we need to know about the day. So I’m in charge of touching base with the coordinator a final time if need be and/or going through the info sheet to make sure I have a very solid understanding of the timeline/considerations of the day. Once that’s all set, I will print off three copies of the info sheet- one for each Justin, Julia & myself – so that even if we have to split up at some point we’re all on the same page. That’s of course, after I have obsessive compulsively checked the date ten times to make sure I have the right date (seriously, what’s that about?? Please tell me I’m not the only one who does that!) Next, I will have either shopped earlier in the week or asked Julia to pick up our must-have supplies to keep us going strong on the wedding day. That’s usually a pack of bottled water to stay hydrated, Kashi granola bars because they’re delcious, almonds for energy, and aspirin in case of impending headaches. And I’m making sure all of that is getting packed up and ready to go in the car. After that, I will do a quick mapquest to figure out how long it should take us to get to the location, then I’m adding in a cushion for traffic, delays and to get us there early enough to be able to scout out everything. Using that number I’m figuring out our goal time to leave the next morning and also our “AIS” time, which is a little something we got from Everybody Loves Raymond :) that stands for “uh… tushy in seat” :) and is the absolute latest time we can leave.
4. Dress for your Brand
The final thing that falls under my umbrella is making sure our outfits are picked out and prepped (ironed, polished, accessorized :) for the following day. One of the biggest changes we saw in how we were treated at weddings (by bridesmaids, coordinators, location staff…and the connections we were making with them) was when we ditched the black shirt & pants and started dressing for our brand. So now Justin is always in a suit (or the occasional dress vest), nice tie, nice shoes. And Julia and I are either in a pants suit, dress pants & cardigan, or a dress/skirt. We’re also paying a lot of attention to wearing nice statement jewelry, and we always show up in heels. Yes we change to flats later on, but that initial impression and being dressed up in general have made a huge difference. So that we’re not running around on the morning of trying to figure out what to wear. I pick out my outfit, ask Justin what he wants to wear and I’m getting everything pressed the night before. One other thing that has made a HUGE difference in making our lives easier is that for Christmas, Justin’s mom got us this Rowenta pro iron steamer that creates a constant stream of steam and presses everything like when you get it from the dry cleaners. And it takes about a quarter of the time as our old iron did. It’s saved us a ton of time with way better results. We LOVE it & highly recommend it!
5. Have a mellow night
Finally, when I say “the night before” it should really read something more like “the late afternoon before a wedding” because we like to have everything done & squared away early so that we can have a nice, restful night together. We’ll go on a date night or watch a movie in, and we just take some time for calm before the storm. :) Also, this part is probably going to sound crazy, but we’re really careful about what we eat so that we’re sure we’re not sick the next day. It’s just one of those things that you start to think about when you’re a wedding photographer. I always know it’s wedding season when I haven’t had sushi on a Friday night for the past six months! :)
So there it is, our crazy routine! I hope it helped at least a little or gave you some good ideas. And as always, if you have any questions or something wasn’t clear you can just leave a question in the comments below.
Happy Pancake Day y’all!
And we’d love to hear your ideas too! Tell us some your wedding prep routine. Is there anything we missed? What are your favorite go to power bars? :)